Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hyrax population explosion

Today's range: 19.5-28.5 degrees C. ~24.1 degrees C when we headed out- clear skies and pleasant. Humidity 39%, winds northerly ~7 kt. No new fires over the weekend.

Sitting on this chair late afternoon witnessed a nice sight- parent white spectacled bulbul feeding a young bird on the branch of the Bauhinia, the young following the adult about and squeaking like a budgerigar. That accounts for some of the psittacine like calls I've been hearing in there over the last week, I was thinking maybe a neighbour had acquired a few budgies! Laughing dove calls also heard as well as the usual house sparrow chirruping. Feral pigeons about the street.

Hooded crows scattered about the woods, adults moulting, young pretty well grown and flock behaviour starting up again though groups at only about 12-20. Wing feathers found on ground.

Turtle doves and collared doves cooing energetically. Jays, Syrian woodpeckers active.

Seemed to be a whole family of hoopoes about look-out corner today- 6 in view at once, perhaps 7 individuals, moving about around the forepart of gazelle field, between paths, hawthorn tree and other locations. On the paths we saw them alternate between walking about poking their long bills in the ground and squatting down for a quick dust bathe.
Now we know why this bird got the vote for national bird (from about a third of the voters!). Our son in the army told us that the only batallion named for a bird in the Israeli army is called for the Duchifat - the Hebrew word for the hoopoe. This is so well known that anyone in the army past or present is likely to vote for it! (
For a photo and info it's worth checking out We spent a little time admiring the family, as it appeared to be though they didn't stay together as a group but moved about in groups of two or three though all active at once. Their broad black and white wings gives them a butterfly like appearance when they take to the air.

We also saw a dark falcon fly and wheel over gazelle field, dark, probably a hobby. I had it in view till another falcon swooped in to chase it and both zipped fast out of my view flying at high speed just over ground level. Ring necked parakeets in the eucalyptus near the east watercourse bridge, many small insistent calls, (juveniles?) then one with rather ragged plumage(moulting) flew alongside us and landed in the top of an acacia where it appeared to be nibbling something, finished flower heads/fruits? Sunbird heard later near the watercourse. Blackbirds seen and heard, greenfinches in song and a couple of chaffinch like songs.

Gazelle spotted on the northern skyline, on the dirt pile by the wall just east of A Ram.

The other mammal of the day was the rock hyrax- plentiful! Looking down at cypress slum at a glance we could see over 40 and at least three quarters of them this years' kits! We saw a young one climb into a cypress and nibble so they're clearly beyond just milk. We wondered if they have some kind of creche arrangement since we saw a parent herding at least 7 and in one instance about 7 appearing to nurse from the same mother, taking turns. It's possible mothers share nursing of the kits and will nurse kits not their own since each mother generally doesn't produce more than four at once.

Plants we saw in today: still some mustard, Echium, broom, Centaurea, capers and globe thistle is just beginning to flower. Checking out the charred area of the fire of the 6th of May: Fresh sprouts of aromatic scrub everywhere, more grass, centaurea and a fine leaved flower shown below. Fennel? Also some tiny leaved plant growing from a niche in a charred tree stump. That and a hairy leaved mint family member I hope to post tomorrow. Good grass growth in one spot exactly coinciding with a patch of fallen eucalyptus leaves. Husband theorized the long slender simple leaves served to collect dew for their

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